Colorado settles with Kansas for $4 million; Republican River rules meeting Monday
Colorado has reached a $4 million settlement with Kansas to settle claims tied to Colorado’s past use of water under the Republican River Compact with Kansas and Nebraska.
The agreement was announced by state officials last Friday. It is intended to end past disputes over Colorado’s water usage and move the states toward more cooperative management of water.
Under the agreement, Colorado will pay Kansas $2 million and put an additional $2 million into compliance efforts.
Republican River Water Conservation District General Manager Deb Daniel said the way she understands it, Kansas will use its $2 million on conservation efforts along the South Fork of the Republican River in Kansas, and Colorado’s $2 million will be put toward conservation efforts along the South Fork Focus Zone in Colorado.
As part of the settlement, neither state admits to wrongdoing.
Rules meeting Monday
A public meeting will be held in Burlington on Monday to go over the state engineer’s Republican River Compact Use Rules.
The meeting will be 10 a.m. at the Burlington Community and Education Center, 340 S. 14th St. State Engineer Kevin Rein and staff will provide updates involving the rule making.
An advisory committee of volunteers met with the State Engineer’s Office monthly for a while to provide input. The committee has not met in quite some time as the state worked on various issues.
Republican River Water Conservation District General Manager Deb Daniel explained the formulation of these “basin rules” came about as the Republican River Domain is larger than the RRWCD boundaries.
The RRWCD was created through legislation in the Colorado Legislature early last decade, to assist the State of Colorado in coming up with ways to help bring the state into compliance with the 1942 Republican River Compact.
Well owners within the RRWCD pay an assessment fee annually to help fund augmentation efforts, such as the creation of the compact compliance pipeline located at far east edge of Yuma County right by the state line with Nebraska. Many wells also have been retired through the CREP program, and surface water rights purchased — all in an effort to get the State of Colorado in compact compliance.
Most of the wells located within the domain but outside the RRWCD are located south of Burlington and down into Cheyenne County.
The wells owners have not been subjected to the assessment fee, but Daniel explained the wells still are factored into compact compliance. Those wells do not have an augmentation plan.
Eventually, when these new rules are put into place with the Water Court, there possibly could be forced curtailment unless an augmentation plan is put in place. The wells could be brought into the RRWCD, and pay the annual assessment fee.
Daniel said efforts to have a bill carried in the Colorado Legislature to change the RRWCD boundaries to match the Republican River Domain have not come to fruition.
Any interested parties are invited to attend Monday’s public meeting.